Plain Talk: Is approval voting in Fargo inspiring more candidates to run for office?


Congressman Kevin Cramer, U.S. Sen. John Hoeven and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum hosted EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt at a closed roundtable discussion in Fargo Wednesday, Aug. 9. Dave Olson/The Forum

MINOT, N.D. — Ben Hanson made an interesting point on this episode of Plain Talk.

He’s a former state lawmaker and candidate for the Cass County Commission, facing off against Tony Grindberg, who is another former state lawmaker.

His race won’t be settled by approval voting, but he lives in Fargo where approval voting is used for local races. Fargo has a lot of candidates running for mayor and the city commission, and Hanson wonders if approval voting, where voters cast a ballot for multiple preferred candidates, might have drawn more people into those races. He compares Fargo to West Fargo, where there are far fewer competitive races.

Does he have a point? Maybe, though, as we talked about during his interview, Fargo isn’t the only place where there are a lot of candidates for local offices. In Grand Forks, which doesn’t use approval voting, there are something like 23 candidates for the school board.

Whatever is happening, there is a lot for voters to pay attention to in local races this cycle. Hanson talked about his own races, and the challenges attendant to running for local office in general.

Also on this episode, Sen. John Hoeven talks about winning the NDGOP’s endorsement at the recent state convention, what’s driving the rancor in politics both in the Republican party and across the political spectrum, and what he’ll focus on as he begins his general election campaign.